I have been in contact with Paul Plumley for around a decade. Not only is he a fellow Bristolian but also served on HMS Gambia, albeit at a different time to my dad. In January, 2017, he sent me the following story about his evacuation from Bristol after the heavy bombing raids of 1940 and 1941.
In the early years of the war Bristol was heavily bombed. It was the fifth most heavily bombed city in Britain. It was an important seaport and a main railway junction between the munitions factories in the Midlands and the naval bases principally at Devonport. The docks in those days continued right into the heart of the city. The heaviest concentration of air raids was between November 1940 and April 1941. Apart from the casualties, over 81,000 houses were destroyed and many more badly damaged, with over 3000 later demolished. On 24 November 1941 one of the heaviest raids demolished the medieval heart of Bristol and to quote the Lord Mayor, "the city of churches had in one night become the city of ruins."
During this particular air raid I was visiting my grandparents on my father's side. They lived in Bouverie Street, behind the Lawrence Hill bus depot. When the air raid started my father decided that we should try to make it home as my mother was alone. Home being 22 Gordon Avenue, Whitehall. In the beginning, he carried me to the above-ground air raid shelter at the end of the road on Easton Road and when it sounded as if the anti-aircraft gunfire and noise of the bombing and aircraft was diminishing we ran onto the next shelter. At one stage, we sheltered under the railway arch where Easton Road joins the Whitehall road. Perhaps not the best place to choose, considering that the railway yards were a possible target. Whilst under the arch a soldier joined us and for the uphill run to our home he took turns with my father in carrying me. I was seven years old. Stopping at one more air raid shelter in the playground of a primary school at the end of Chalks Road, St George. We joined my mother in the Anderson shelter at the bottom of the garden. I was to spend quite a few nights in the shelter. That wasn't to be the only night we listened to the rattle of the shrapnel from the anti-aircraft guns falling to the road. Our closest big gun was known as "Purdown Percy." In common with all the small boys I knew, we spent the mornings after scouring the streets to see who could pick up the biggest piece of shrapnel. This was the beginning of the story of my evacuation. It lasted for almost five years, until I returned home after my eleventh birthday.
"I like your smile." I looked up from the scrap of paper torn from a school exercise book, then stared at the boy who had passed it to me. He grinned, and nodded along the row of desks. a pretty girl was leaning forward and smiling straight back at me. I learned later that her name was Lorna Tonkin and we became friends. It was the first day of my evacuation and I had been sent straight to school at the Bugle primary school. A small village school not far from St Austell, Cornwall. Only the day before I had been taken to Temple Meads railway station in Bristol with many other small children. We were being sent to the country to escape the bombing. My mother was fully occupied with shiftwork and my father had by now been called up into the Royal Air Force. All of us had our name and address labels pinned to our coats and we were carrying our gas masks. The little boy at the rear in the photo could well have been me, although, I can't imagine my mother allowing me out without my stockings being pulled up properly.
We were told that the train was delayed outside of Exeter because the railway junction was being bombed, so, it was well after dark when we arrived at St. Austell. The green Western National buses were waiting in the station car park for us. On the train, I had made friends with another small boy during the journey and of course we became blood brothers. We were never going to be separated. But, this was wartime, so the very first stop the Western National bus made was at the village of Stenalees where we were split up. I was handed over to my host family in Bugle village. My situation was unusual in that, I was not evacuated with a Cornish family. My host family were evacuees themselves. They came from the east end of London, an area called New Cross and the father of the family was a dock worker who was quite ill and so the entire family had been moved to Cornwall. They brought with them children from another part of the family. So in my house, when I arrived, there were three daughters of Aunty Em and two daughters and a son of another part of their family. So by the time I arrived, there were six children in the house of primary school age.
Aged seven, I was the smallest of the group and I had to share a bedroom with the eight-year-old nephew. There was of course only an outside toilet at the bottom of the garden and so every bedroom had a po. Being small, I knelt down to use it but the big boy stood up to use it. He was facing me. Then he peed in my face. That night I wet the bed, and when they found it in the morning I was told I was a dirty little boy. This problem was to last some time. After breakfast we were washed and brushed up and sent straight down Fore Street to Bugle Primary School.
The crossroads in the middle of Bugle village has the Bugle Inn on one corner and at that time the opposite side of the road had a small corner shop, possibly the Post Office. If you went downhill on Fore Street towards the station, there was a turning on the right which was the turning point for the bus from St. Austell to Bugle in New Street. On one corner was a butcher's shop and on the opposite corner facing it was the house that we all lived in. Its garden ran down the side of the house towards the Drill Hall at the end of the road. At some stage, the rules on rationing were changed, and children were allowed to change their sweet coupons for cheese. I only had to pop across the road to the butcher shop in order to exchange my coupons for cheese.
Looking down Fore Street there was a railway arch crossing the road just below Bugle primary school. There was a garage on the opposite side of the road from the school just before the bridge. Inside the garage on top of the offices was a light aircraft with the wings dismantled stored for the duration. Perhaps someone in the garage had built it before the war and, of course, it had to be mothballed. Underneath the bridge and on the right was the turning to get to the minister's house.
My time in Bugle primary school was reasonably happy as far as I remember. It was here that I developed my love of reading and continually won reading competitions. At certain intervals the class was given one new book. One such book was Worzel Gummidge and my prize was to be the first pupil to be allowed to read it. Strangely, I don't remember anyone particularly teaching me to read but from then on I read everything I could lay my hands on. I do remember being taught to write correctly by the use of lined exercise books. Bars of three lines were on the pages. Capital letters filled the space between the top and bottom lines and lowercase letters were between the bottom and middle lines. That ability to write clearly stood me in good stead in later life, both in the Royal Navy and as a civilian. Among my favourite books were Richmal Crompton's "Just William" stories. The most influential stories were the "Biggles" books, kindling an interest in aeroplanes and flying that is still as strong as ever, 71 years later. "What Katie Did", "What Katie did at School", Boys Own, comics, Heidi, the Scouts newspaper and later on of course, American comics after the American troops arrived in Bugle. So, Superman, Batman and Spiderman became part of my reading adventure. My main source of American comics was the US Navy detachment guarding what I believe was a munitions dump just off of the Rosevean Road. It was a hut, at a small lane just before you arrived at the large china clay tip. The track that took the skip to the top of the tip crossed over the road at that point. At about this time I was friends with the son of the landlord of the Bugle Inn. We played in the small garden behind the Inn where his father had made a model of a china clay tip. Complete with a wooden track going to the top and a small truck to run on this track which, when it reached the top could be tipped making the tip go higher each time.
My reading often got me into trouble. On one occasion, I was missed at supper and the hunt began to find me. When finally they decided to look around the village and even involve the village bobby, someone decided to look up and saw me lost in a book seated on the window ledge with the room curtains drawn across behind me. I had heard nothing. As I got older, perhaps eight and nine. I had a party trick. I was wheeled out when we had visitors and read the latest war news from the papers. I remember the maps showing the movements on the battlefields with different thickness of arrows depicting who moved where. A good book is still a problem for me, once I'm into the story. It is extremely difficult to get me to move, I promise myself that I will finish the chapter and put the book down but the opening lines of the next chapter always draw me in. So all those little jobs, and sometimes the big ones do tend to drag on. I have said that my time in Bugle primary was reasonably happy, until the day that the school dentist arrived for the annual inspection. He had set his treadle drill up in the head's office and when it became my turn to go in I had, for a seven-year-old, a terrible shock. He was black. The first black man I had ever seen in my life and probably for every other child in the school. I was terrified and refused to get into the chair. In the end I was thrown out of the office. For years afterwards I delayed visiting any dentist until the last possible moment. Later on one of these occasions arose and I was taken to a dentist in St Austell. It was opposite the church and we had to go up a flight of stairs, when we reached the door, the adult, I don't remember who, made the mistake of going in first. I bolted, and ran around the church and up the hill and hid behind the station. I stayed there until quite late and then got the bus home. I don't remember what happened to the toothache.
I was playing on the moors one day with a friend when a plane flew over us. It was really low, and the pilot and his crew man waved to us. I recognised it as a Barracuda, probably from RNAS Culdrose as I believe that this particular aircraft was used by the Navy. You may think it strange that a small boy would recognise an aircraft type. This was because we were reading the Air Training Corps magazine, and on the back page was a collage of bits of aircraft. A tail from one, an engine from another, and a wingtip and so on. This was to aid in aircraft recognition. After all, many of the teenage boys studying these pictures would be old enough to fight before the war ended. As I have already mentioned, reading the news to the grown-ups introduced me to photographs of Spitfires, Mosquitoes, Lancaster's and many other aircraft giving me my one and only ambition, to fly. I never made it, Instead, I became a seaman in the Royal Navy at the age of 15. My father made it plain that he would never permit me to join the Royal Air Force. I believe that it was because he served as an armourer on a Lancaster Squadron and remembered seeing 12 aircraft go off and as few as seven returning. Often the BBC would announce that our aircraft had attacked somewhere on the Continent and that, for example, 10 were missing. It probably sounded better than saying 70 men were missing.
One memory is of the class being sent from school to help with the potato picking. Were we given sixpence for doing this? I can't be positive. Perhaps someone else knows. On one occasion, the school did the Helston Floral Dance from Roche to Bugle. Roche rocks were a happy hunting ground for us and were ideally suited to games of cowboys and Indians. One particular dare was to climb the outside of the rock instead of going up the ladder. Many years later when I took my two boys, aged four and seven to the rock to show them where we had played, it was interesting to see that the death-defying climb for a small boy had shrunk dramatically. I think that I was privileged to have the moors around Bugle as a playground. It is true that there were open mine shafts on the top overlooking the village but these were avoided, as were the fantastically blue lakes formed in the disused clay digs. Seasonally, we collected blueberries for the great blueberry pies that Aunty Em made. After one Harvest Festival service, there was an auction of all the produce, held in the chapel. I was told off for making a bid of six pence for a giant pumpkin as '"what possible use could it be'?" Then a lady came across and said that if I gave her the pumpkin she would give us back three jars of jam and they were very good. So my sixpence wasn't wasted after all. Auntie Em was a good cook and I loved her Cornish pasties, to me they were huge. She made great rock cakes and when they came out of the oven we tried to get the baking tray and scrape off the bit's that had spilt over and became a little burnt. Because of the sugar they were as good as sweets. All of the cooking was done on the kitchen range. This had a small fireplace in the centre and on one side was a water tank with a tap and on the other side was the oven. While the watertank was obviously useful on a day-to-day basis for washing up and clothes washing, it really came into its own on a Friday evening. Friday night was bath night. We queued up and when our turn came we stepped into the tin bath placed in front of the fire. As the youngest and the smallest I was always the last of the six children. In later life, when asked if I had any brothers or sisters I would always reply that I was an only child, completely forgetting that for more than four years I lived in a house with seven children. Six of us being of primary school age. The garden which ran down the side of the house along New Street was well stocked with vegetables. We played a game with pea pods, which meant of course, that you had to split the pod open and eat the fresh peas, which were delicious. Then you pushed a match into the bottom of the open pod, folded over a scrap of paper and pushed it down onto the match to make a sail and then you had a Viking ship which was then sailed on anyone of the small pools around the village. We knew enough however, not to go anywhere near the big blue lakes.
I didn't realize how fortunate I was at the time but my mother sent me a postal order for two shillings and sixpence every week. This was posted in Bristol before lunchtime on Friday and almost without fail arrived on the Saturday morning in Bugle. Pretty good going, during wartime. I would wait outside the Post Office to cash it when they opened and then we caught the nine o'clock bus into St. Austell to go to the Odeon cinema for the Saturday morning picture show. One of the features of the show was that always at the start of the show the words of a song would appear on the bottom of the screen and a ball would bounce along the words. We had to sing in time with the bouncing of the ball. Coming out of the cinema, we crossed Fore Street to a grey stone building with, I think, a covered market inside. Here, a stall sold hot pasties. This worked out at, sixpence for the return bus fare, sixpence for the cinema and sixpence for the pasty. During one hard winter, the bus did not arrive. We were hanging around, hoping against hope, when an American army truck pulled up and offered us a lift into St Austell. What a thrill. By lunchtime for the return trip, home the buses were running again.
The Minister of the chapel started a boys club. We took trips up onto the Moors and he introduced his idea that we would all have nicknames. One of the classic tactics used when trying to integrate a group and get them all to work together. My name was Smiley. On one of our outings. He taught us how to make a whistle out of a sycamore twig. I can still do it. Later on, he converted this group into a Scout troop. I was still too young to be a Scout but rather than leave me out, the Minister said I could join. However, by this time a Cubmistress had arrived and falling in love with her, I chose to be a Wolf Cub. I was still only just ten remember! Perhaps she was very kind to me. The Cubmistress organised a day trip for us to the small harbour at Polperro. When we got there, she told us to change into our swimming costumes and swim or play inside the harbour. I had not brought one so she tied a couple of our neckerchiefs together and fashioned a swimming costume for me.
Our special treat was a trip to the seaside at Newquay going by train from Bugle station. Something we saw there but perhaps did not realise the significance of, was the large number of wounded servicemen convalescing walking around in their bright blue uniforms, I believe wearing red ties. The beaches were of course fantastic. My memories of Newquay must have been significant because I took my wife there for our honeymoon. One other thing that we did at Bugle station was to put pennies on the line and wait for a train to flatten them. I think that perhaps the porter kept an eye on us!
Some children were taken to Mevagissey to act as extras in a film being made there. Its title was "Johnny Frenchman" and the port had to act the part of an English port and also a French port. This was done by changing the signs over the shops and around the port area. We were given tea and jam doughnuts in a marquee and of course, the doughnuts were the real reason that we went.
Towards the end of our time in Cornwall, an elderly relative was sent down from London to stay with us. He was an old soldier, having served in the Boer war. He spent all of his time in bed and I was told to look after him. This meant seeing to the fire in his bedroom when it was cold and emptying his chamberpot and also a mug at his bedside, which contained his phlegm. He told me a lot of stories about his time in South Africa and the Boer War. I regret not being mature enough to take the opportunity of writing them down. They may have been an old soldier's tales, but I believe that there's always a grain of truth in the telling. I think he was sent down to Cornwall to die, because I don't remember it being very long before he passed away . When he did, he was laid in the parlour and we were expected to go in to see him. I think I must have been frightened because I refused and when uncle Ted tried to push me in I dug my heels in. In the resulting scuffle. I ended up on the floor, I wasn't hit, I was never hit, but I never went in.
One Saturday morning a friend and myself set off to go to the beach at Porthpean. I was carrying my lunch in a folded over Kellogg's box, it was a jam sandwich and probably an apple. When we got to the beach. We decided to explore along the cliff top and arriving overlooking the next beach, which I believe was Duporth Bay, or was it Carlyon Bay, we saw that it was a huge American army camp. Naturally, we had no idea that they were rehearsing for D Day. Clambering down to beach level, we found the soldiers to be very friendly and ended up by being taken out for a trip around the bay in an amphibious lorry. What an adventure for two small boys but the day wasn't quite over because we were quite late back and the families were just beginning to get worried about us. Later, while serving in the Royal Navy. I served in an amphibious warfare squadron and discovered that the lorry was actually called a DUKW, commonly called a duck.
A DUKW, more commonly known in the Amphibious Forces as a 'duck'
I've always preferred wildflowers to most of the garden variety. This probably started in Cornwall in the bluebell woods around Luxulyan. All of the others followed in season, snowdrops, primroses and cowslips. Another favourite was the cuckoo pint. Two special favourites were foxgloves and montbreschia, which grew out of the earth packed garden walls on the walk from the nearest bus stop to Porthpean beach. Scrumping was a popular pastime in season, but there was one favourite fruit just to the side of the little lane that led up to the park and that was gooseberries. The bushes were no longer cultivated and were pretty wild. The gooseberries however, were giants. And when they started to change colour and go a little red they were delicious. Amongst the other things that we tasted was the wild watercress that grew in the little channels on the moors, pulling clover heads apart to suck the nectar from the bottom, and eating wild nasturtium petals, probably long before someone thought of decorating a salad with them. In season, we took containers down to the Lockengate Road where the hedgerows seemed to be completely covered with hazel trees. We filled a lot of these containers with hazelnuts. Another American army camp was soon to appear on this road. Growing around the edges of the many water and marshy areas was a very long, thin reed with a small tassel on the top. We found that cutting three of these and plaiting them together they made excellent whips. These were used to urge on the six straining horses pulling my Wells Fargo stagecoach at full gallop, trying to escape the howling hordes of Redskins behind me. In reality three or four more small boys. We saw a great many Western films at the Saturday morning film show at the Odeon.
When the Park grass was mown and the men had left without collecting the grass, we spent some time gathering it all into a large mound right in front of the swings. Then, swinging as high as possible, we would let go and dive onto the grass mound. Also, of course, tree climbing was a favourite pasttime.
It was impossible to buy gramophone needles at that time, so uncle Ted had a solution of sorts. We would go out into the garden and choose a large rose thorn which he whittled down and put that into the playing head of the windup gramophone. Surprisingly, it produced a sound. This was at a time when men sharpened their Gillette razor blades by wetting a glass and pushing the blade around and back and forth. Another war time economy as razor blades were in short supply.
Uncle Ted loved cockles (or was it winkles?) and sometimes when we went to the beach at Porthpean he took a bucket which was filled with cockles which he then carried home on the bus. When they had been cooked on the range we all had a pin and tucked in. Perhaps he was remembering the jellied eels so popular in the East End of London. The older boy and I had an idea that we would help to fill the family pot. So we said that we would go out early in the mornings and catch some rabbits. A couple of snares were found and the next morning we were up very early and set off for the moors. Finding a couple of runs, we set our snares and returned home for breakfast. For at least two or three mornings, we kept this up until we got bored with it and preferred our warm beds. We never did catch any rabbits.
In later years the elder daughter married a man from Luxulyan whose work was driving a large lorry and moving sand for construction work. I was lucky enough to be given a ride on occasions when we went to the beach and sand was taken from the dunes.
At some stage of my time in Bugle there was an outbreak of impetigo and I was one of the unfortunate ones. I was quarantined in the house and garden, probably for two weeks or so and this led to trouble with the older boy. We were in the garden and he was teasing me and eventually, as so often happens, I suddenly got very angry and went for him. It was no contest really, but when we were pulled apart, I got the blame. Many years later when I was working as a stand manager at the Royal Cornwall Show I was dealing with management people from the English china clay company. When I mentioned my time in Bugle one of the people worked out that we had been in the same class. I didn't remember any of the teachers that he mentioned but he did remember that "I must have been one of those vaccy's that caught the impetigo." He also claimed that we had all been sent to an isolation camp! I couldn't believe that he thought that impetigo was so discriminatory as to select only evacuees.
For two or three years my mother came down for her weeks summer holiday and spent time with me. On one of these visits, she got into the carriage at Temple Meads railway station and found a sailor already in the carriage. Knowing my mother, I doubt that many words were exchanged. As the stations were passed and the sailor remained in the carriage, especially after Plymouth, he was obviously travelling well down the line . When the train arrived at St Austell station they both got out. It was late and very dark but fortunately there was one taxi in the station yard. Eventually they agreed to share and you may imagine their surprise when they both gave the same address to the taxi driver! The sailor was the father of the nieces and nephew that auntie Em was looking after for the duration for her sister! He was serving in the corvettes that protected the North Atlantic convoys sailing from Liverpool. The tiny ships that we said in the Navy would "roll on damp grass" or "bounce like a pea on a drum." His ship was H. M. S. Chrysanthemum, a funny name. I know, but she belonged to the flower class of corvette. From my time in the Navy. I can imagine the disparaging remarks from other sailors about a ship called Chrysanthemum and the possibilities of further discussions and exchanges on the matter. At least she wasn't named "'Pansy'," that nearly led to a mutiny.
As the war progressed and the threat of bombing had been reduced. I was sent home to Bristol for a weeks holiday. The older boy came with me. When we arrived at St Austell station, auntie Em searched the platform until she found two young women. Asking them their destination, which was after Bristol, she asked them if they would look after us and hand us over to my mother at Temple Meads station. Trains were pretty crowded in wartime, so I spent the whole trip sat on the lap of one of the girls. During this holiday my mother took us to the home of a work colleague to meet the family. During the visit, I met the daughter , a five-year-old with ringlets. Little could I have known that 16 years later I would marry her.
My last memory of Cornwall is a visit to the Odeon cinema in St Austell . It wasn't a Saturday morning show, just an ordinary afternoon show and I was on my own. I saw films which have remained with me over many years. "'For whom the Bell Tolls," "The Story of Dr Wassel'" and '"The Song of Bernadette'." I've no idea what the film was on this particular afternoon but partway through the performance the lights went up and an announcement was made that everyone under a certain age should clear the cinema and wait in the foyer until they were told to come back in. A misguided lady sat next to me pushed me down into the seat and said not to bother and that I should stay there. I could come out when the lights went down. Next on the screen were newsreel pictures of the liberation of the concentration and gas camps in Germany. I have no memories of any effect these had on me and in fact don't remember much about them at all. This must have been in early 1945 when British troops entered the camp at Belsen, so I would have been 10 at the time.
When V.E. Day finally arrived, arrangements started to be made to move my host family back to London where they lived in New Cross. Strangely, I have no memory of any celebrations of V.E.Day at all, yet I can remember a street party in Bristol to celebrate the Coronation immediately prewar. This was in Bouvery Street , where my grandparents on my father's side lived. The devastation we found on arrival in the East End of London didn't come exactly as a surprise. We had been hearing about the attacks by "doodle bugs" and the V1 rockets and our playgrounds in the East End of London, were the bomb sites. On the corner from the high Street of New Cross stood the Odeon cinema. Two or three buildings along from the cinema, the buildings had been completely demolished. As the ground sloped away, with nothing to obstruct the view, we could look down to where my new home stood. By the time that we arrived whole areas had been cleared and in some cases the rubble made into mounds in the middle of what used to be a block of houses. Only the roads criss-crossing these empty spaces gave a clue to what had once been there. Fortunately, for my host family, there was one small rank of houses left standing of which theirs was one. It was a corner house with a very small back yard and as soon as possible after we arrived chickens were installed in a small run in the corner of this yard. There were plenty of houses still standing with a staircase clinging to one wall and leading nowhere for us to climb. We salvaged scraps of lead piping and filling a tin with the damp sand pressed a model Spitfire into the sand. Then, with scraps of wood we lit a fire and melted the lead in another tin and poured it into the mould. What a playground! Another craze was to make a scooter out of scrap wood and much sought-after ball bearings for wheels . I went through the Blackwall Tunnel (on the pedestrian path that used to be there) as well as far as the Greenwich Observatory. Another popular playground was the canalside.
It wasn't long before the Walls ice cream man came pedalling around on his tricycle with a large cold box mounted in front. The slogan was "Stop me and buy one." The men wore a butchers apron with blue and white stripes and a white peaked cap. All of the ice cream was in small briquettes, which cost sixpence. So I tasted my first ice cream, and it was really nice. Not long after, I lost it all in the gutter. I believe that quite a lot of children had the same experience with their first banana. Not far along the road from the New Cross Odeon I have mentioned that the whole of that side of the street had been destroyed, leaving quite a drop to the level below and the house where I lived. The last building standing , albeit in ruins, was a chapel , the end wall of which fell vertically to the level below. Speedway at that time was a very popular sport, we supported the New Cross Hammers and one well-known rider I can remember the name of, was Erik Chitty. Sometime, during my stay, we discovered that the older boys had arranged an oval of fallen masonry into a speedway track and flattened the surface ready for racing. They were racing on bikes. Two years later, I went to the cinema and was completely surprised to watch a short film that was made on that very spot in the shadow of the chapel , of this sporting event. The film claimed that this was the birthplace of Cycle Speedway.
Before I left Cornwall I had already taken the exams, (later to be known as the eleven plus), with everyone else and had been told officially that I had gained a place at the Cornwall County Grammar School at Truro. However, with the family moving back to London, it was arranged with my mother that they would take me with them and continue to look after me for a while. This was because my mother was still working full time on shift work and my father was retained in the RAF as a delayed demobilisation due to his trade. We duly arrived in New Cross and I was asked about any tests that I had taken. I reported that I had gained a place in Truro but when the education authority contacted Cornwall, my papers had been lost. So I sat another exam in London, a solitary figure in a huge gymnasium in front of an adjudicator. I was duly told that I had passed the exam and had gained a place in Plumstead Grammar School. However, on the night before term was due to start, my father turned up on the doorstep still in his uniform and told me that we were catching the midnight train from Paddington to Bristol so that I could start school the next day at St George Grammar School. Apparently, my papers had been sent straight to Bristol and a place allocated to me.
And so, the next chapter started.
In my story of the air raid I mentioned Bouverie Street where the Coronation street party had been held and which was the home of my father's parents. In fact, it was more like a railway village. It was quite close to the marshalling yards at St Philips, and almost all the houses, I'm told, were the homes of railway employees. , The L M S or the London Midland and Scottish were represented, but principally, of course, being Bristol, most inhabitants belong to the GWR or as it was more popularly known, Brunel's "God's Wonderful Railway," Typically, for an inner-city street of the time both sides of the street was lined with terraced houses where the front doors opened straight onto the pavement. These front doors were opened at breakfast time and not closed until late evening. Each doorway had a brightly polished brass kick plate with a recessed door mat inside. Then there was an inner door leading to the hall and on one side of door the parlour. This room was only used on very special occasions. All the windows had lace curtains. Neighbours popped in and out at any timeof the day.
Many people to-day mock these stories, nevertheless, they are true. These are some of my memories of my evacuation. I emphasise 'my memories' because that is what they are. If anyone finds mistakes or wrong details, it cannot change the way I remember it.